DVSAS funding on the chopping block

San Juan County Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services has lost a portion of its state funding.

The cuts are part of a broad reduction in social services funding that occurred when Governor Christine Gregoire issued an executive order directing state agencies to reduce their state general fund budgets by roughly 6.3 percent.

“Social service programs are getting cut across the board, and we fall under that,” said Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services (DVSAS) director Anita Castle. “It has to do with balancing the budget.”

As a 501(c)3 nonprofit, DVSAS gets 85 percent of its annual $360,000 budget from government sources, with the remainder coming from private donations and fundraisers.

DVSAS runs two main programs: Domestic Violence, and Sexual Assault.

The Washington state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) provides $160,000 for the Domestic Violence program.

The Washington state Office of Crime Victims Advocacy (OCVA) provides $115,000 for the Sexual Assault program.

The two sums together comprise $275,000, the lion’s share of the DVSAS annual budget.

Both DSHS and OCVA plan to reduce their funding of DVSAS programs by at least 6.3 percent, resulting in a total loss of at least $17,325 from the DVSAS annual budget.

“We’re going to have to downsize,” Castle said. “We’ll try to keep the best services that we’re doing, but our advocates are already part time. If we get approximately $30,000 cut out of this we’ll lose advocates, lose paying rent, our space.”

Castle said the organization hasn’t yet worked out next year’s budget to compensate for the recent cuts.

The 6.3 percent cut is only a taste of things to come, according to an Oct. 5 memo from DSHS secretary Susan N. Dreyfus.

“The 6.3 percent across-the-board spending reductions we announced (will) not be the end of budget reductions the department will face in the short term. Given the revenue forecasts for the 2011-13 biennium, which begins July 1, 2011, the Governor’s Office of Financial Management has asked all Executive Cabinet agencies to submit additional reductions totaling 10 percent…”

The proposed additional cuts, totaling 10 percent, would be implemented in July 2011.

Other chunks of DVSAS annual funding include: $28,000 from OCVA’s Domestic Violence Legal Advocacy program and $15,000 from a $45,000 STOP (Services, Training, Officers, Prosecution) grant that is shared equally between DVSAS, the sheriff’s office and prosecutor’s office to help provide legal advocates for victims.

“If we lost that, the prosecutor’s office wouldn’t have a victim service advocate,” Castle said.